DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Missing - Special Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Feb 19, 2004.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]


    The Missing
    Special Edition





    Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
    Year: 2003

    US Rating: R
    Canadian Rating: 14A

    Film Length: 137 minutes
    Genre: Thriller

    Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 widescreen enhanced
    Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround & French DD2.0 Surround
    Subtitles: English, French
    CC: Yes

    SRP: US$28.95





    Release Date: February 24, 2004


    Movie Rating
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The Missing is a screenplay based on a novel named “The Last Ride” and was one of Ron Howard’s projects he wished to do from the think tank of future motion pictures. A thriller set in the ‘western days’ of over 100 years ago, the story shows no forgiveness of the hard times people faced during this era.

    Maggie Gilkeson (Cate Blanchett) is a healer raising two young daughters with her boyfriend Brake Baldwin (Aaron Eckhart) on her ranch. Life is hard as a doctor, but Maggie’s life has always been one of struggle and abandonment. She is reminded of this when a man claiming to be an Apache visits her, and her family at the ranch like most other people at this time doesn’t like the Indians. Fortunately for Maggie, this Apache wants no trouble, but she wants to give him trouble because she tells us he is her father who abandoned her family as a child to live with the Indian community. She shows no forgiveness to him so he is set to leave the next day.

    Brake and Maggie’s daughters Lily (Evan Rachel Wood - Thirteen) and Dot (a talented Jenna Boyd) and a ranch keeper set out one day for cattle and don’t return. Maggie is horrified to find in her search that murder and kidnapping ensued their travels. With Dot unharmed and Lily captured by Indians, Maggie sets out on a search to find those who added tragedy to her life. Since the local sheriff (Clint Howard) and Lt. Jim Ducharme (Val Kilmer) aren’t interested in an immediate search, Maggie can only turn to her father as she believes it takes an Apache to catch an Apache. Their pursuit is time sensitive to the kidnapper’s trail of murder led by the witch Chidin (Eric Schweig), before they reach the Mexican border and disappear forever. If this happens, Maggie will loose all hope, as her daughter will be sold off to Mexican slave traders.

    This tone of this thriller is set at the beginning of the film and is one of struggle and conflict. This film relies heavily on the development of characters and their back-stories to help us understand why they make the decisions they did. This film is not a typical Western film, if it is at all, but is more or a modern thriller set in over a century ago. Character development is excellent and brought out with solid performances from the entire cast that make you feel as if you are ‘in with their time’. Feelings of racism underlie the characters' thoughts, and the message is successful by not shoving it in our face like other films do. The villains are both white men and native people, but more of an unfriendly nature is painted of Indians for a sense of danger, which of course is a root of racist ideology of the day (and for today’s ignorance). Unfortunately the modern thriller aspect of this film doesn’t always work because it feels less authentic for the movie’s setting. While I’m sure there were psychopaths back in the day, I think the way it was presented to us in this film, whether by the cinematography or the pacing of the scenes, some ideas didn’t seem to fit and felt out of context. Overall, this was an enjoyable film because it is different in spatial terms to the many other murder thrillers in film today.


    Video Quality? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The film opens in the quiet New Mexico winter landscape and exhibits wonderful cinematography and colouring. From the brown-looking days, orange-warm evenings, and icy cold nights, the colours are strikingly natural for an old-day feel. Contrast is excellent and black level is very deep. Black levels of the interiors are so deep in fact that it can be difficult to see into other areas of the picture, so it is recommended to view this film in a dark environment. Outside scenes look great and as mentioned earlier, convey the mood the film creates in the story. Film grain is non-existent as well as compression artifacts. The image is softer than other films I’ve seen using Sony’s High Definition Mastering, especially at the beginning of the film, where objects in the distance look out of focus than some of the best films I’ve seen. The player generates subtitles. The special features section and even the ‘scene selection’ menu on the DVD have subtitles placed on the film. The film is in its correct ratio of 2.40:1 and is widescreen enhanced. A full frame version is available as a separate purchase for those of you who don’t want to see the full scope of this film.


    Audio Quality? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    James Horner provides a wonderful music score or strings and native instruments such as windpipes to assist the mood of the film. It is well recorded; the soundtrack is clear, has great balance, and has soundstage depth. Environmental sounds are consistent scene to scene with sounds from the wilderness emanating from all channels. Most of the dialogue seems to be sourced from the scenes shot because of its rougher sound. Dialogue is intelligible but a little cloudy sounding. I prefer dialogue used on scene over ADR because not all ADR sounds spatially integrated. As long as the recorders do it right, then its fine and I can’t tell. But in this film’s case, whether using ADR or not, the dialogue was always on cue and integrated perfectly. In this Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the LFE channel doesn’t draw much attention to it and doesn’t need to in this film since the main channels are full range anyways, and sounds in this film don’t need the extra LFE enhancement.


    Special Features? [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The second disc is loaded with features and is put together very well. I guarantee you will be very satisfied with what this disc has to offer and it has received my highest rating. There are six main areas to venture through, each with their own submenus, so I’ll go through one at a time. Every single feature is not enhanced for widescreen and is in DD2.0.

    Everyone’s favorite feature is first - deleted scenes. From the original three-hour plus workprint, we are given 11 scenes in total timing at about 17 minutes. These are finished scenes that probably almost made it into the final film, although one of them has a boom hanging down for a few moments. These scenes flesh out the characters a little more and are very interesting to watch. They were probably cut for pacing as all other movies have the same thing done to them. They are framed at approximately 1.85:1.

    Outtakes (2.31) are next on the list and features some funny moments during filming. Interestingly, there are three alternative endings as well. Each of them range from eight to thirteen minutes, and I can say I am happy with the ending chosen for this film over these other ones. They aren’t bad at all, but the Long Version ending would be my second choice for an ending. The other two are cut strangely using clips from scenes to convey a different meaning in the context it’s used. They don’t flow right and seem ‘assembled’ rather than filmed with intention.

    There are no less than five featurettes on this disc, all of them are produced extremely well with direct involvement with cast, production, and director Ron Howard. This disc is a perfect example on how special features are made interesting – when the director gets directly involved and clearly enjoys talking about his work. Below are the five featurettes:

    The Last Ride: The Story of The Missing (5.37), features an interview with the screenwriter and how the book The Last Ride came to script, and how script came to film.

    New Frontiers: Making The Missing (29.05) shows location scouting, cinematography, set and costume design, interviews with the talent, and stunts.

    The Modern Western Score (5.01) discusses the music of James Horner and instruments used in his orchestra.

    Casting The Missing (15.37) discusses how the talent were selected for their roles and also proves if you have friends and family in filmmaking you are bound to get a role in a film.

    Apache Language School (5.43) shows how the film tried to be as accurate as possible to one of the three Athabascan dialects spoken in this film. It also tells the sad truth about the disintegration of the language due to the domination of the English language among the native peoples. Sadly, this is prevalent everywhere in the world because of assimilation of cultures, and has been a product of human history for millenniums. I have a place in my heart for dissolving languages because language is such a powerful creation that makes us unique over other animals in the world. To think that thousands of languages have disappeared over time makes me wish I knew them all in their place and time. The best we can do today is preserve them in print if not used communications. Welcome to the global community of the 21st century where one language is more convenient than many in our face paced world, which I am grateful to live in.

    Beyond the featurettes, Ron Howard has a whole sub-menu section for himself aptly titled Ron Howard On…. There are six located in this menu, plus three of his own home movies that were odes to Western films. They are:

    Home Movies (5.51)
    John Wayne (3.08)
    Editing (2.12)
    The Filmmaking Process (2.20)
    His Love For Westerns (1.50)
    Conventions of Westerns (2.55)

    Home Movies
    The Deed of Daring Do (3.01)
    Cards, Cads, Guns, Gore and Death… (2.11)
    Old Paint (15.37)

    After you’ve gotten through all of the above, be sure to check out the Photo Galleries on cast, production, and location. The theatrical trailer is located on disc one, and you are also forced to watch trailers (sigh) for Hellboy and Spiderman 2 before the film starts. Thankfully the skip button works. There are no DVD-ROM features and there isn’t a chapter insert in the box, but (phew!) there are a lot of features to take in and well worth the time.


    Thoughts…

    This is an excellent 2-disc release that is worth picking up when released. The movie provides a refreshing story setting having real character development, chemistry between characters in a non-sexual way, strong female roles, and a decent picture and audio transfer. Throw in disc number two and watch the excellent special features that are interesting to watch. We have a winning DVD from Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment that you must check out. Recommended!

    Michael Osadciw
    04.02.19
     
  2. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    I thought the deleted scenes and alternate endings were framed in 1.78:1 (but 1.85:1 almost is like 1.78:1 since they're so close).

    I liked reviewing this movie for my site and I now have to pop ina 1.85:1 DVD and compare it to the delted scenes/alternate endings on THE MISSING to double check the ratio.

    Be Seeing you,
    David Blackwell
     
  3. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    I eyeballed the ratio and it looks 1.85:1, although differences between that and 1.78:1 are too small to be exact. I didn't zoom it in to fill my 1.78:1 screen because of picture quality concerns, and even then my projector has a little overscan anyways that wouldn't allow me to confirm my suspicion.

    1.85:1...1.78:1...too close to care. It's non-anamorphic anyways, if it was 1.78:1 I would guess they'd enhance it. Just hit the zoom button on your remote if you want it to fill your screen.

    Regards,
    Michael
     
  4. ClaytonMG

    ClaytonMG Stunt Coordinator

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    Are there any trailers on this disc?

    Clayton
     
  5. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    I compared the deleted scenes on THE MISSING to a movie I have in 1.85:1 on DVD (PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES) and it looks like THE MISSING deleted scenes/alternate endings are 1.78:1

    Yep, there plenty of trailers on disc one and I wish Columbia would quit doing the play two trailers to get to the menu thing (but luckily you can fast foward through the trailers).

    Be Seeing You,
    David Blackwell
     
  6. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    David,

    I removed the link to your review.

    Though I am certain you did not intend it to be
    as such, it is sort of rude to enter another reviewer's
    thread with a link to your own.

    Thanks for understanding.
     
  7. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

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    I missed this in theatres so Im looking forward to this DVD.

    Very good review Michael! [​IMG]
     
  8. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    Ron, no problem. It would have been easier though to PM me instead of posting a comment about it though.

    I love reading reviews. Some reviewers pick up on things I didn't pick up on.

    Be Seeing You,
    David Blackwell
     
  9. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    This was a wonderful film that I think will grow in estimation. It seems a lot of critics looked at the film, saw kidnap plot, family searches for, and supernatural elements (respectfully treated) and decided it was a remake of the searchers gone bad. [​IMG]

    It's a brilliant recasting of the western, and I think it's great to see a different perspective, and a blending of genres in the film. ONe of my favorite aspects was the fact that the hero characters were not noble enlightened modern humans who only believe what is politically correct in the moment. Instead they have realistic attitudes of racism and gender that are confronted, but not in a blatent or hamhanded way.

    I can't wait to see this again, fabulous movie. [​IMG] the extras sound terrific.

    and Jenna Boyd acted circles around the older Evan Rachel Wood, but then Boyd got all the plumb lines and scenes.

    Adam
     
  10. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    Michael, what was your favorite extra on the DVD? what do you wish they had included on the DVD? I wish there was commentary option for the deleted scenes and alternate endings.

    Be Seeing You,
    David Blackwell
     
  11. ClaytonMG

    ClaytonMG Stunt Coordinator

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    So what trailers are on the DVD? I liked it better when it was an option to view trailers (which it still is, but you just need to fast forward thru the forced ones)

    Clayton
     
  12. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    The only forced trailers are Hellboy and Spider-Man 2 while there are trailers for eight other movies on the DVD in the trailers section including 13 Going On 30, panic Room, The Devil's Backbone, the Statement, some other ones, and the 2 forced trailers I mentioned above.

    Be Seeing You,
    David Blackwell
     
  13. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    Yes, I forgot to mention the trailers...it was on the back of my sheet and I missed it as I wrote the review. There are two forced trailers of SpiderMan 2 and Hellboy. Yes, there is a theatrical trailer for The Missing as well.

    Audio commentaries are great on deleted scenes and it would have been great to have. This disc really covered a lot of material, so I really can't think of much more to put on it, other than a film commentary from Howard and the talent, for those of you who like commentaries.

    Regards,
    Michael
     
  14. ClaytonMG

    ClaytonMG Stunt Coordinator

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    Was this film originally mixed/mastered (sorry, not sure on the propper terms) in Doby Digital Surround EX? I was watching it today and I turned on the EX just to see if it sounded better and there was no build up in the rear channels or anything and it sounded completely natural.

    Clayton
     
  15. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    the player genned subtitles showed up off the image and were mostly on the bar at thebottom for me.
    thats not normal is it?
     
  16. ClaytonMG

    ClaytonMG Stunt Coordinator

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    That happens sometimes. It happened on my copy too.

    Clayton
     
  17. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    I finally got around to watching this but made the mistake of reading the blurb on the back cover before I did so. It mentions a "shape-shifting phantom" as the kidnapper. Buh? Did I miss something? The movie included some very modest supernatural elements, but nothing like what the DVD's case stated. I recall no phantom, shape-shifting or otherwise. Did I nod off and miss something?
     

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